The Fort Smith Boys & Girls Clubs has opened its Innovation Lab at the Evans Unit. The unit was funded by a $20,000 James M. Cox Foundation grant, which is part of a $150,000 program to open five labs in the United States.
The Innovation Labs are part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Club Tech program, which provide students access to curriculum to advance computer literacy skills.
“The Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club appreciates the continued support of Cox. The Cox Innovation Lab provides new and innovative technology and support to help bridge the digital divide that exists for many young people in Fort Smith,” Beth Presley, CEO of the Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club, said in a statement. “It will give the children going to the Boys & Girls Club the freedom to explore their interest in STEM while providing those without a computer or internet access a way to get connected and manage through distance learning. It includes laptop computers, furniture, 3D printer, eSport, Wi-Fi and internet services provided by Cox.”
The Innovation Labs also help children without access to a computer or internet connection at home.
“A reliable connection to the internet is more important now than ever before,” said Tina Gabbard, Cox vice president and market leader for Arkansas. “We’re committed to ensuring our children are connected at school, at home and right here at the Boys & Girls Club where so many children spend their afternoons. We look forward to the incredible achievements we’re going to see from all of these bright kids in the coming years.”
The James M. Cox Foundation is named in honor of Cox Enterprises’ founder and provides funding for capital campaigns and special projects in communities where the company operates. James M. Cox was Ohio’s first three-term governor and the 1920 Democratic nominee for president of the United States.
The Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club is a drop-in youth service organization where members have opportunities for recreation, competition, supervised activities and interactions with adult staff and volunteers. The Club is open to those age 6 to 18, and has four club facilities in Fort Smith.